Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Members of Congress Kick Off Economic Human Rights Bus Tour in Georgia

Food First | 12.01.1999

Winter 1999, Vol. 21, No. 74

0ne by one, the testifiers came forward to tell their emotion-filled stories of the plight of poor people in the world’s most affluent society. Eloise Hopper, a client of the Antioch Baptist Church Food Pantry, said “I do many things to balance on my insufficient funds. I work with the elderly, I clean houses, I help the disabled. I have to be careful not to work too much so Social Security will not cut back on my check.” At other stops on the tour, including Grady Hospital in Atlanta, South West Dekalb High School, the Georgia Hunger Coalition offices, and a dairy farm in Eatonton, the delegation heard similar stories about American economic injustice.

In a nation that produces 20 percent more food than can possibly be consumed, why would the first proposals regarding welfare reform be experiments with nutrition programs?

Listening to the testimonies on November 11-12, were Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and John Conyers (D-Ml), singer/activist Harry Belafonte, and actor/activist Danny Glover, as they traveled through Georgia with the Congressional Progressive Caucus Economic Human Rights Bus Tour, co-sponsored and organized by Food First and the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. “The faces of hunger are changing: they are younger,” said Bill Bolling, executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank. “Recent census data shows that Georgia has one of the highest rates of child poverty–26 percent–and one in four children do not have access to adequate food. In a nation that produces 20 percent more food than can possibly be consumed, why would the first proposals regarding welfare reform be experiments with nutrition programs, which for most part have worked well for decades?”

Rep. Conyers called the tour the “most important thing I’ve done this year,” adding that more of his colleagues need to hear first-hand the stories of the poverty-stricken. “That’s why I want to hear your stories and be reinvigorated and remotivated to fight the corporate takeover that’s going on in this country.” Rep. Lee echoed Conyer’s concern. “We try to move in Congress by supporting movements to get people our of poverty,” she said. “Our mission is to condemn human rights violations wherever they occur, either abroad or right here in the United States of America.”

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